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We find ourselves at a point in history when some lawbreakers are punished, and some are forgiven. We seem to have lost our moral compass and sense of ethical balance.

But every now and then the system redeems itself, makes right what could have gone so wrong.

Case in point — the drunk-driving charges and punishment meted out to Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District Principal Mark Swanitz, who was arrested last October, and has been the focus of much community discussion ever since.

The school official’s judicial punishment consists of a 60-day suspended jail sentence, and three years of unsupervised probation. That may seem relatively light to some, but Swanitz has an otherwise clean record.

Still, that last fact did not prevent parents of students in the district from demanding that Swanitz be fired. District officials saw it differently, kept him on the job, in large part because the arrest happened on his own time, and was not school-related.

District officials did, however, impose some punishment of their own, which includes community service, and that entails spreading the message about the evils of drunk driving. A teacher fully involved in a teachable moment? Perfect symmetry.

First, a raspberry to Principal Swanitz for his lapse in common sense. Second, roses to those who see community service as a good way to repay society.


Jim Mosby isn’t exactly the most popular Lompoc City Council member, and some of his actions in that role may be worth a few raspberries, but he deserves a rose for the recent decision to open his property at the entrance to River Park for four consecutive Saturday’s of kite flying.

That’s right — kite flying, which is almost a lost art.

The first event happens today from 2-5 p.m., which should be sunny and reasonably warm for mid-February.

For the uninitiated, flying a kite is one of the great calming activities. It requires a decent amount of concentration and skill, but it is relatively easy to master the art of flying. And building a kite is about as mesmerizing as building fishing flies. Think of it as food for the soul.

So, get on out to the property near the intersection of Highway 246 and Sweeney Road. It’s free, attendees will be able to pick up a free kite and learn about kiting, or bring their own kite — or kites — and join in on the fun.

Just do it!

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Local governments aren’t having an easy time adjusting to the new state law legalizing the recreational use, growing and sale of marijuana.

There are many factors to consider, not the least of which is that despite what California voters decided, marijuana remains a schedule-one controlled substance in the feds’ eyes. And U.S. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has cast a shadow over the parade of states legalizing marijuana use by insisting the Department of Justice is going to bring the hammer down on those states.

A raspberry to all the politicians who promote the cause of states’ rights, then turn around and say such rights do not extend to issues already approved by a majority of a state’s voters.

Roses to local governments that are acknowledging voters’ and states’ rights by setting up the mechanisms necessary to regulate marijuana use, growing and sales.

The federal government should have been doing extensive research on marijuana’s value and/or harmful effects years ago, if for no other reason than the sheer volume of use by Americans in recent decades.

Until the facts are known, this debate will surely continue.